These Houston Schools Take World Language Learning to the Next Level

Multilingualism is a tremendous asset, opening up new career opportunities and new cultural horizons. And even without attaining full fluency in another language, students can benefit greatly from language learning. A host of studies have shown second language learning to have positive effects ranging from strengthened cognitive abilities to increased cultural awareness.

All Texas students are required to take two courses in the same language in order to graduate high school – no other language study is required. However, many parents and students want more second language education than a simple two semesters of Spanish. If you feel language study should be a significant part of your child’s K-12 education, Houston boasts many great schools that can meet your needs. Through wide-ranging curricula, immersive programming, or partnerships with sister schools abroad, the schools profiled below* take world language learning to the next level.

High Schools

The Awty International School is a private international school. It offers courses in thirteen languages: Arabic, Dutch, English, Farsi (Persian), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Additionally, in its bilingual section, it offers dual language programming in French and English from PreK onwards. At the high school level, students in the bilingual section prepare for and take either the French Baccalaureate or the International Baccalaureate of Geneva.

Bellaire High School is an HISD school with a magnet program in world languages. It offers courses in eleven languages: Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. Students in the magnet program must take at least four levels of one language and one level of another.

Carnegie Vanguard High School is an HISD Vanguard magnet school. It offers courses in five languages – Arabic, French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish – although Arabic and Mandarin are not offered at higher levels. Students are required to take three levels of a language, rather than the standard two, in order to graduate.

Lamar  High School is an HISD IB magnet school. It offers courses in eight languages: French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. All eight are offered through at least level IV.

Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School is a private religious school. At the high school level, it offers courses in five languages: Chinese, Classical Greek, French, Latin, and Spanish. Three levels of Latin are required for graduation; the other languages can be taken as electives. All five languages are offered through at least level IV.

Westside High School is an HISD school with a magnet program in applied technology. It offers courses in seven languages: American Sign Language, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. AP courses are offered in French, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish.

HISD Dual Language Program participating schools serve both native Spanish speakers and Spanish language learners through dual language instruction.  At the high school level, the Dual Language Program includes AP Spanish V Literature as well as Spanish-language instruction in some subject areas.

Some other schools deserve special mention for offering four languages at the high school level: Episcopal High School, The Kinkaid School, St. Agnes Academy, St. Johns School, St. Pius X High School, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory  Academy, The Village School, and Westchester Academy.

Middle Schools

The Awty International School is a private international school. At the middle school level, it offers courses in seven languages: Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. Further, in addition to its upper-level language programs discussed above, it offers dual language programming in French at the middle school level. Students in the school’s bilingual section receive classroom instruction in both French and English.

Holy Spirit Episcopal School is a private religious school. It offers a single language, Spanish, which is a required part of the core curriculum from PreK4 onwards. Additionally, through a partnership with a sister school in Costa Rica, students have the opportunity to participate in a short-term exchange program wherein they live with a host family in Costa Rica and attend a Spanish-language school there.

Pin Oak Middle School is an HISD magnet school with a magnet program in world languages. It offers courses in French, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. Language study is an integral part of the curriculum, and students earn a minimum of one year of high school language credit.

HISD Dual Language Program participating schools serve both native Spanish speakers and Spanish language learners through dual language instruction. At the middle school level, the Dual Language Program includes AP Spanish IV Language as well as Spanish-language instruction in some subject areas.

Additionally, Lanier Middle School deserves special mention for offering four languages.

Elementary Schools

The Arabic Immersion Magnet School, an HISD magnet which will welcome its inaugural class in the fall of 2015, is among the very first Arabic immersion schools in the United States. Classroom instruction will be 50% in Arabic and 50% in English, with some content from all subject areas being covered in both languages.

The Awty International School is a private international school. In addition to its upper-level language programs discussed above, it offers dual language programming in French as early as PreK. Students in the school’s bilingual section receive classroom instruction in both French and English.

Kolter Elementary School is an HISD school with a magnet program in world languages. It offers courses in three languages: French, Mandarin, and Spanish. The kindergarten curriculum introduces all three languages, and in grades 1-5, students choose one language to study. Language learning is incorporated into all subject areas.

The Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School, an HISD magnet, offers Mandarin from PreK onwards. The language is incorporated into classroom instruction in all subjects, with some content from each subject being covered in English and some content being covered in Mandarin.

HISD Dual Language Program participating schools serve both native Spanish speakers and Spanish language learners through dual language instruction. In grades K-2, the Dual Language Program uses Spanish as the primary language of instruction for all students and all subjects. In grades 3-5, instruction is 50% in English and 50% in Spanish.

The following elementary schools also deserve special mention for having a language requirement: Annunciation Orthodox School, Corpus Christi Catholic School, The Fay SchoolFirst Baptist AcademyHoly Spirit Episcopal School, John Cooper School, The Post Oak SchoolPresbyterian School of Houston, The Regis School of the Sacred Heart, River Oaks Baptist SchoolThe Shlenker School, St. Anne Catholic School, St. Francis Episcopal Day SchoolSt. Johns School, St. Mark’s Episcopal School, St. Michael Catholic SchoolSaint Thomas’ Episcopal School, and Veritas Christian Academy.

 

*This article is not an exhaustive list of great language schools in Houston. Know any other schools with exemplary language programs? Share them in the comments!

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